A vehicle belonging to a national non-governmental organisation fell into a deadly ambush on its way to Pibor in South Sudan on Saturday 25th of March. The incident is a grave attack against aid workers causing calls for investigation.
Six staff members of the South Sudanese humanitarian aid agency GREDO were reportedly killed when their vehicle fell into an ambush last Saturday. The incident occurred in the early morning hours on the road leading from the capital Juba to Pibor town, which is approximately 250 kilometres away.
The aid workers were traveling in a convoy when the attack happened. The bodies of the aid workers were found on the road by the convoy members who reached the area after some time.
GREDO has been a partner to Finn Church Aid in South Sudan since 2016. Together the two organisations have supported sports for peace activities for the youth in Pibor and its neighbouring counties with the aim of increasing peaceful co-existence and unity among them.
“I’m aghast and infuriated by the despicable murder of six courageous humanitarian colleagues”, says Pio Ding, FCA’s Country Director from Juba.
“This is particularly tragic at a time when humanitarian needs have reached unprecedented levels. It is entirely unacceptable that those who are trying to help are being attacked and killed. We urge the authorities to investigate and bring the killer to justice.”
The convoy, which included several vehicles and trucks, was transporting items belonging to a number of humanitarian organisations. Among these items were school construction materials for FCA, intended to be used to build new schools in Pibor, and in neighbouring Gumruk town.
FCA has implemented quality education projects in the area since 2016.
One of the most dangerous places in the world for aid workers
This incident brings the total number of aid workers killed in South Sudan to 79, counting from the beginning of the conflict in December 2013. Attacks against humanitarian workers and their premises have been on a dramatic rise in the past couple of months. This illustrates the deteriorating situation in war-torn South Sudan.
FCA’s presence in South Sudan, one of the most fragile states in the world, stretches back to 2010 when it established its country office in Juba. In 2017 FCA implements projects in the states of Jonglei, Central Equatoria and Lakes.
Open conflict, insecurity and a failing economy are making it increasingly difficult for aid workers to deliver desperately needed lifesaving assistance to the most affected communities.
The killing of aid workers will further hinder the provision of humanitarian aid to alleviate the suffering of the South Sudanese people.
“The appaling trend of attacks and intimidation against aid workers and assets remain a feature of the operating environment. This has to stop immediately and perpetrators must be brought into account”, says Ding.
In February, famine was declared in parts of South Sudan, where the lives of 100 000 people are now threatened. A further 5 million are considered to be at the brink of starvation.
The conflict, which began from a rivalry between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar, is now in its fourth year, and it has led to the death of thousands and to the displacement of millions.